There are several groups trying to get marijuana law reform measures on the Arkansas statewide ballot this fall, and some of them are actually making progress.
The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act currently has about 68,000 signatures, all gathered by volunteers. They need 68,000 valid signatures to make the ballot, but the norm for petitions like this is that many signatures will get thrown out, so you always attempt to get way more than you need. The group plans on collecting signatures until late April with the goal of reaching 100,000.
"We have done all of this with volunteers and that has been amazing,” said Melissa Fults, director of the group behind the measure, Arkansans for Compassionate Care. “Most of our volunteers are patients themselves, so for our little ragtag group to gather 68,000 signatures is amazing."
The group behind another petition, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016, is also out gathering signatures. This means, at the very least, that medical marijuana is an issue being brought to the attention of a lot of registered voters in the state. The conversation and the education are the foundation for all successful ballot measures.
This is especially true with something that has been stigmatized as much as the cannabis plant has. The only information many people have about marijuana — especially older people — are the lies they learned growing up. That is what has to change if there is any hope for legalization in Bible Belt states like Arkansas.
If you happen to live in Arkansas and support medical marijuana, I’m sure these groups can use all the help they can get. With small budgets, many activism groups run on the labor of their volunteers. Sometimes it’s the only way to get things done.